It's the Great Pumpkin

Wait wait wait! I’ve lived in the desert for almost three years and my body still craves fall weather. I can’t fight it. My internal clock knows that it’s time for the leaves to change colors and fall from the trees, for rainy and cloudy nights, colder weather and sweaters, to watch Charlie Brown’s It’s the Great Pumpkin and scary movie marathons, and earthy and robust flavors of seasonal produce.

October produce: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, parsnips, apples, and cranberries are in their peak. I’ve prepared other squash but only pumpkin a few times. I forgot how much work it is to clean a pumpkin of its stringy fibers and slimy seeds. It took me about thirty – forty minutes to get to the almost sweet and earthy flavor flesh that would eventually be roasted, pureed, and mixed into a cheesecake batter.

A small 2 lb. pumpkin yielded about 50 seeds and more puree than I knew what to do with. It really wasn’t worth the effort. Growing up I remember my mom using Libby’s pure pumpkin because it has just as good of flavor as a freshly roasted pumpkin flesh and it’s a lot easier to work with.

My pumpkin cheesecake recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. On Food and Cooking by Harold Mcgee, Mcgee considers cheesecake to be a custard and that it should be mixed slowly, baked gently, and transitioned from hot, warm,and cool slowly.

To make a pumpkin cheesecake first preheat oven to 325°F. Take two individual pie tins, or 1 springform pan, and press down the crust. Crust is made by grinding 15 graham crackers, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, a handful of pecans, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. When the dry ingredients are ground up pour enough melted butter to make a paste. Mold the pans with the paste like mixture and bake for 5 minutes.

In the meantime make your batter by lightly mixing 2 oz of mascarpone, 6 oz of pumpkin puree (Libby's Pure Pumpkin NOT the pie filling) and 4 tablespoons of sugar until its smooth. Whisk 1 large whole egg, 1 large yolk, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and a splash of cream together - for creamier and tender effects add extra yolks. Fold the whisked eggs into the smooth mixture and lightly mix a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice until the batter is completely smooth.

Fill the pie tins with the batter and bake in a water bath at 325°F for about 30- 35 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and keep the cheesecake in there for another 10-15 minutes or until the center is slightly firm. Chill before serving. Top with whipped cream before serving. Delicious!

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Chapters 1 -3

Whip it, whip it good.

I’m not a fan of Rachael Ray, her laugh and her constant bubbly personality, really gets on my nerves. Looking past her wild hyena sounding laugh and her teletubbies personality I can see something meaningful.

More and more people are working longer hours, wanting to spend more time with family, or spend more time doing something else besides vacuum sealing bags of fresh salmon in the kitchen for an hour, and that's why Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals is a great idea for a lot of people.

People have asked me if I know of any good recipes that are quick, fresh, and flavorful. Not wanting to reference Rachael Ray I thought that I would do something similar to her 30 minute meals.

The first dish of my series that I’m going to call Devo, I’m open to other names so if you have any suggestions let me know, will be based on one of my childhood food memories.

It’s a dish that consists of egg noodles, cottage cheese (other fresh and hard cheeses will work but I like cottage because of the low fat, low carbs and high protein content,) pulled chicken, a lot of seasoning, and fresh herbs.

The first thing you want to do is get your pasta water up to a simmer; see my tip on water time in my Christmas in July entry. On a medium high heat take about a tablespoon or so of oil in a sauté pan and heat it until the oil shimmers. Add your well seasoned (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic,) chicken breast, presentation side down, to the pan.

Do not overcrowd the pan, 2-3 breasts at a time, and cook 6-8 minutes and flip it for another 6-8 minutes. In the last couple of minutes that the chicken is cooking bring the simmering water to a boil.

Pull the chicken out of the pan and put it on a cutting board, loosely cover with a lid, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Boil the pasta according to the directions. Shred the chicken and chop up a handful or so of parsley. Use herbs that pair well with the cheese, protein, and spices that you are using. Drain the pasta and prepare to plate.

For one serving take a bowl and add about two handfuls of pasta, ¼ c of cheese, 4-6 oz of protein, and sprinkle with herbs. This is a quick and versatile dish, that is flavorful and texturally satisfying, that can be prepared in about 30 minutes or less. It’s a perfect start to my Devo series and a perfect way for you not to spend too much time in the kitchen.


“Now whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead…
It’s not too late
To whip it
Well, whip it good….”